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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Good Day

Hey, Dad! Let's play some ball.

After two days of rain, the sun is out; the grass is turning green and we feel ready to play!

This morning began with the ground fog burning off. The line of trees and fog is by the river.

After another scare,( for me), being alone with Dave, he had a low sugar episode. June got home in time to get him straightened around. I apparently did some things right. Now the Patriarch of the house is feeling and eating well. Yesterday he shared his memories of working in the logging camp with horses and cross cut saws and axes.

Two of my female cats had kitten. One only had two. The other, had hers somewhere by the shed. I have not found them yet. I am not sure this is good news as I already have seven cats. They are cute. Softy me cannot drown them, so I am stuck with them.

The best news is I finally got my water back on. What a luxury running water is. I have been hauling water for three months. I had to buy a new pump and wait until the ice shelf at the edge of the river melted so I could recover the jet and foot valve. It took over a weeks work, on and off, trying this and trying that to get the jet pump to pump water. They are tricky. a little air leak or fleck of dirt in the jet will prevent them from working. Mysteriously, and at the point I was about to give up and haul the new pump out to have it tested for a fault, the pressure built and delivered water to the house. This morning I got up and did three loads of laundry and took a shower, (Oh so needed!!!) With the sun shining and the people and animals content, IT IS A GOOD DAY!
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Restoring America

I highly recomment reading this article by Dr. David Michael Greene, Schadenfreude Is My Middle Name - - Breaking News & Views for . It is a summary of the sins of the Bush Administration in it's destruction of Iraq and the United States. He celebrates the beginning of the tearing down of the Bush administration. It seems the majority of the American public have finally gotten mad at what the Bush adminstration has done on their behalf and to them.

I love the German word "Schadenfreude" for which their is no simple English equivalent. It means, taking pleasure in another's difficulty. Using the phrase in an ironic fashion, "It couldn't happen to a 'nicer' guy" is close. After the arrogance of the Bush administration in carrying out it's demonic program, seeing the wheels start to come off fills one with a sense of delight.

The slow process of turning around the American Republic has begun. It, perhaps ,started with the Democrats gaining a majority in the House and Senate. It seems the politics of fear doesn't work any more and their are growing efforts to challenge the Administration. At last, far too late for those who saw the Bush administration for what it was years ago, the wheels of adjustment built into the American political system are grinding away.

After only one public debate, I am bored and unimpressed with the leading choices for a Democratic presidential candidate. The only one I like is former Governor of Alaska, Mike Gravel, a relic, a voice from the 60's. Blog · Gravel Won’t Be Buried He speaks refreshingly, the Truth, without all the political double talk. I read one of his speechs a month ago and felt the fresh breezes of his thought wash over me. Sadly, the process is not fair and the established order will not have him. It is already decided he will be dropped from the next debate. That will make it even easier for the media to ignore him. This last debate he had some of the most interesting things to say and got very little press. Why is a corporate news organization sponsoring these debates and deciding who can take part? The media should not be sponsoring news events. They should be there as fair reporters of it. I am not too hopeful that the Democrats are up to restoring American. But it is a start. Ironically, I think it is the Conservatives who can best restore American. I speak of the real conservatives not the "neo conservatives" who are unworthy of the name. True conservatives are the protectors of the tradition. Liberals role has always been to expand the bounds of understanding in the light of changing times. Conservatives remind us all of the noble tradition. The Bush Adminstration abused Conservatives with their lies, deception and attacks on political rights and freedoms. Here is a conservative organization with a program to restore American values. American Freedom Agenda Ironically, this Socialist finds little wrong with their program. I wish them well and hope they make a big contribution to reminding Americans of their traditions and to restoring Ameria to it's former nobility.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Visit From the Wild

Mother Nature gave me a gift this morning. As I stood at my sink doing dishes watching whatever appears out the window, a Grey Wolf step out onto the road and proceeded to saunter along the edge. I had a lovely long look before it walked back into the bush. My dog Ben, thought he would let him know this is his territory so he ran down to were he had disappeared and folowed into the bush. A few second later Ben came running back. I guess the wolf let Ben know he was meaner.

Later, the wolf came out on the road a second time. For me the wolf is the symbol of all that is wild and free. They are wonderful shy creatures and to see them as I did was a gift. I have seem them silently observing when i was working in the bush but never so close to home. There must be a small pack near by for June saw a wolf one day and my neighbour said he saw a pair..

To night i will howl and see if they will reply.

The Eastern Grey Wolf

Wolves have been much feared and hated. This is dreadfully unfair. They are not a threat to people and they are a necessary top predator in the ecological balance. Studies have show they are not even a major factor in perdition among domesticated livestock. Wolf Song of Alaska: Crying Wolf over Predator Attacks

Canada still has significant numbers of wolves while efforts are underway in the United States to restore them to parts of their former range after years of being hunted/poisoned/trapped to extinction.Wolf Song of Alaska: The Canadian Wolves

We all need to occasionally give thanks and enjoy the wildlife that blesses us with their presence.

ANZAC Day April 25

For the Aussies and Kiwis today is ANZAC Day. (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp). It is a day of national celebration and rememberance of the 1916 battle at Galipoli in Turkey (Then the Ottoman Empire) As part of the First World War, (Ottoman Turks were allies of Germany).

This battle was a heroic but failed battle for the troops of these countries will large losses. It's significance is that it was a defining event in the creation of their national identities, in much the same way the battle of Vimy Ridge is for Canada. The Anzac Day Tradition [Australian War Memorial] ANZAC Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Canadian National Vimy Memorial - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In those days, Australia and New Zealand were empirial sisters with Canada within the British Empire. Like very few countries, our three nationals did not become countries through revolution or insurrection. This , I believe, has been influential in shaping the kind of countries we have become. Nationhood has been a gradual process achieve through a series of steps in the 20th Century.

Ironically, and I think sadly, (being a pacifist ) National consciousness is created around some great military struggle. For our countries these battles were in service to the Empire in a foreign war. Our countries won credibility and respect through our sacrifice, which which forged a national identity which lead to evenual Nationhood.

To all the "mates down under" well done! You have honoured the dead at Galipoli by becoming the wonder countries of law, prosperity and charming national character, which we admire.

Happy ANZAC Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Story that Haunts Me

I read many accounts of injustices around the world and fret over them but few haunt me like this one of three prisoners in Angola Prison in Louisiana. They have been in solitary confinement for 30 years. It seems they are innocent and the prison authorites have been conducting a vendetta against them over all these years. AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: Life in Solitary Confinement: 12,775 Days Alone How a person maintains their sanity under such a condition of torture, is a wonder to me. Just the thought of it makes be feel a sense of panic. In truth, it does drive people insane.

At first, I thought this was a "one of" situation. With a little research I discover it is shockingly common in the American Prison System. Increasingly, long term solitary confinement it being used.
Solitary confinement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia NPR : Q&A: Solitary Confinement & Human Rights

If this can be the practice in a country that believes in the rule of law and where people have the right of habeus corpus how more abusive under a system where these safeguards are denied.

I have long been aware of the inadequacy of the US prison system. There is something dreadfully wrong that this liberal democratic country the claims to believe in the rule of law should lead all other countries in the number of its citizens incarcerated.
The Straight Dope: Does the United States lead the world in prison population?

I guess those who believe in "lock them up and throw away the key" are happy. I am just one of the simple minded who really believes, "we are our brother's keeper".

Monday, April 23, 2007

She Makes Us All Proud

This young woman is my niece, Andrea, who is about to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, magna cum laude, in psychology.

I got a prideful email from my brother, who loves to sing the praises of his three lovely daughters who have excelled in school. Laura, the eldest is now a lawyer, Heather, the middle child who missed out on the red hair, is in graduate school to become a clinical psychologist and now Andrea, who aspire to teach in University.

Well, we are all very proud of them. I don't think I tell them or my brother that often enough. (It is a sibling rivalry thing, I think. Perhaps, Heather can figure me out when she finishes her training).

My mother, in particular, would have been exceedingly proud of Richard's girls, as she was of the rest of us who have done well in school. She believed in "salvation through education". While I relish my education, I have yet to feel "saved" Mom! There is something incomplete yet.

Andrea has just been granted a full scholarship and a paid assistantship to attend the venerable College of William and Mary to study cognitive psychology. I have no doubt she will do herself proud there also.

I have not see my nieces since they were preteens, although I have corresponded with them over the years. Andrea was always the funny and playful one. She occasionally spoke to me on the phone in some heavy North Carolinian accent to have me figure out what she was saying. She is also the athlete in the family. She has been on the University swim team for her four years at UNC, Wilmington. Heather, the middle child, has always been the sensitive one to me wanting to know how I am. And, Laura, the eldest, suffers from that family position by feeling so very responsible for everyone.

At the end of June, I will see if my impression of the girls is correct as we will all be attending a family reunion in Toronto, at my sister's place. I look forward to some lively conversation with all three of the girls.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day 2007

I hope everyone finds a little time today to clean up the environment around their place.

I guess you are getting old when you remember the first Earth Day back in the '60's. I do as if it were just last year. There was such an excitement and enthusiasm for it. Earth Day 2007: History of Earth Day

My plan is to pick up any trash along the river across my property. I have a mile frontage so I may not do it all. I also have nearly 2 miles of road frontage which I will do another day.

I hope the sun is shining where you are and you have a lovely day.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Virginia Tech Revisited

I wasn't going to mention anything more about the tragedy at Virginia Tech BUT, something has impressed me. Virtually, all the teachers who were killed made heroic efforts to protect their students rather than try to save themselves. This speaks well of these teachers and teachers in general. Teachers have a special relationship to their students. It is more than a commercial relationship of a consumer and a distributer of a service, (sharing of knowledge). It is almost a parental relationship. Teaching is such an honourable calling that can never be recognized enough as an essential part of our shared community. The french teacher, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak was the only Canadian killed. Her heroism has been acknowleged by a couple of her class who survived. She apparently was a much beloved teacher for which she had a passion. Her other great interest was gardening and enjoyed being in a more southernly horticultural zone, where she could pursue her gardening interest while teaching french. She is the mother of two girls. Victim from Quebec was 'proud Canadian, dedicated to French'

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring Has Certainly Arrived

With the sun shining and the temperature ay 18C or better for a few days we can finally declare Spring has arrived.

Ben found some of his many balls lost in the snow. He is ready to play, "toss the ball." I toss he chases and retrieves. I am worn out.

Ben contemplating getting wet on a sunny day. He is no swimmer. He just stands in deep enough to get his belly wet. (Could he be cooling his passions?)

Finally, we don't have to start the stove in the morning. Soon I will have to give it a good cleaning and chimney sweep.

Other news:

My friend and housemate, Dave, is seriously ill. At 84, his heart is "finished" (the way the doctor put it). His wife June and myself would like him to come home so we can care for him. There may be some effort to leave him in the extended care part of the hospital. We think he would be better among friends, with his adorable dogs and able to enjoy looking out upon the countryside in a stress free environment. We shall see what the best medical advice is.

Another neighbour is also in the hospital after having a heart attack. We have been friends for a number of years since they bought the farm at the end of the road. Last week, her son stopped in and asked me to visit her during the day, each day, while he is at work. He was worried about her. He husband is in Germany visiting family. She was alone and trying to lower her blood pressure with herbs, an interest of hers.

Shortly, after I started visiting her she had to go to the hospital where they determined she had had a heart attack. I hope she will be able to come home again soon. In the meantime, I also dog sit their lovely husky pup. Always room for another animal.

I sold six of my pigs. This leave me with my sow and two young pigs. who are running free and enjoying the sun and whatever they can root out of the ground. My two cows and three pigs have decided they are a herd. One of my young pigs was badly mauled by my neighbours bull terrier. It is recovering with several severe wounds. I thought it might die of shock but it didn't. Pigs are tough.

I have visited the neighbours, who are new, and told them of my concern about their dog attacking my dog Ben and then one of my pigs. They don't see their dog as a problem. He is their loveable pet. We shall see!!!! I am long suffering. If their dog is a problem for anyone else they may finds someone coming and shooting it. That is the traditional way of resolving such issues around here. Even the police behave this way. If a dog is harassing wildlife the police just shoot the dog summarily!

Spring seems to bring us all closer together, people and animals alike, as we are out and around.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virgina Tech Massacre

For Canadians, we have seen before the horror of the irrational rampage at Virgina Tech. It was in 1969 at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. Mark Lapin walked into the college and killed 14 enginerring female students and wounded 14 other male and female students before killing himself. There is no comprehension of this kind of behaviour in a civil society.École_Polytechnique_Massacre

We all grieve for those more directly involved and we may even question our own Society and the risks involved in being an open and trusting community. There is no defense against such a rare but terrifying event. We must resist the temptation of adopting draconian measures to limit our personal freedom and turn our back on the trusting nature of community.

Besides the Montreal Massacre, I am thoughtful of the plight of students in Iraq. In that beseiged country they have the equivalent of two Virgina Tech incidents EACH DAY. There have also been hundreds of University Professors and administrators assassinated. It takes enormous courage to be a student on that country. Strangely, there is little acknowledgement of this "collateral damage " of the American War and Occupation of Iraq. I wish more people cared about the innocent Iraqis. Rocky Mountain News - Denver and Colorado's reliable source for breaking news,

In a relateded matter, I also just read that 70% of Iraqi children suffer from emotional trauma from what they are living through. Would someone explain to be how the effort to turn Iraq into a vassal state to control it oil resources is worth all the carnage!

If an insane individual goes on a killing rampage we are all horrified and aghast but if a Nation state does it in our name it is celebrated as necessary and even heroic. In almost all instances it is neither. It is just the same kind of insanity.

I found it hypocritical and distasteful to see President Bush try to identify and sympathize with the Virginia Tech tragedy. For me his sympathy is thin indeed, as one who must be held responsible for so much pain and suffering in this world. All during his remarks, I am reminded that he is a war criminal responsible for the hundred of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where is the sympathy for the innocent of those two country.

For a couple of days, I have watch the American media covering of the tragedy in Virginia. It has degenerated into a ghoulish rehashing of the events and wild speculations to fill dead air time, as only the mass media can do it. I find it is time to move on and stop being a voyeur in other people's suffering. To it's credit, the CBC, decided to not broadcast the video images on TV or the audio text on radio, which were sent to NBC. The CBC feels they encourage copy cat events.
Out of respect for the grieving people I think it is a commendable decision.

In the end respectful ways will be found to remember the victums of this tragedy, which forever will be a part of Virgina Tech.

Hopefully, in the weeks and months ahead we will hear of some jesture or programs that will stand for a long time to remind us of the loss of these individuals whose lives were full of promise and hope and now are gone, leaving an emptiness in the lives of family and friends to whom they were so precious.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Morning on the River

It is a lovely clear day today. The storm that is attacking the Northeastern US and Maritime Canada is missing us. Thank God for small blessings.

I made a visit to the river see how it is. The water level is really low for this time of the year. This is a testament to the limited snow fall we had this year.

Early morning back light gives a nice reflection on the water. The snow is the last of the ice shelf along the river. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see a corner of the gable end of the cabin in the grove of elegant elm trees. It is built on the side of the river trench, making it very private and hard to see even from the bridge.

This is the gravel bar created by the cribbing of the old bridge washed out in the flood of 1979.
A bailey bridge was installed to replace it. Ben always likes to check the river out although he is not much of a swimmer, unlike my son's chocolate lab.

The rock at the old swimming hole by the bridge is exposed. Only at the height of the summer in August is so much showing. This time of year it should be covered with water with a good current in the river at this point.

This is a picture of the gravel that now washes into the river every Spring since the governement "improved" the road. This gravel should be on the surface of the road. Right now their is a long washout along the edge of the road hill coming off the bridge. The only good thing is that the lightest particles may have washed downstream and helped to built the sandy beach in front of our cabin.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Life that Made a Difference

June Callwood died at 82. She was a remarkable woman whose life has made a big contribution to Toronto and all of Canada. She was a writer and social activist. An elegant hippie who took up social activism after witnessing the plight of the poor and young on the streets of Yorkville in the 1960's. From there she took up the cause of the poor, prostitutes, Aids survivors and breast cancer to name just a few of her causes. I encourage you to read about this remarkable Canadian woman and her life that has made a difference. June Callwood Dies at 82

While I never met her, I have been aware of her tireless efforts over they years. I do have one slight connection with her. When I first moved to River Valley. I brought the brother of a friend of mine with me. He was a youth that had had a troubled life and when no one would step forward to help him, I did. He had been involved in a number of home robberies. As a result of my efforts, he only had to spend a short time in a youth detention center as long as he came to live with me. His crime spree ended when he was arrested trying to start June Callwood Mercedes car. I once tried to tell him about June Callwood and what she had done for peoplem and how ironic I found it that she would be a victim of his crimes.I don't think he was impressed. I guess crime spares no one! I expect. if she had known him. she would have understood him and tried to help him herself: that is the kind of woman June Callwood was. Besides, her impulses to help others she had social, political and organizational skills to build agencies that will continue to aid other for years to come. She has help so many and will be much missed and remembered as a remarkable woman.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007

Could this be the end of the 1960's. The author of protest of my generation, Kurt Vonnegut died. He is best known for his novel" Slaughterhouse -Five". It was based on his witnessing, as a prisoner of war the wanton destruction of the German city of Dresden in 1945. It was a must read for my generation in the midst of protesting the American destruction of the country of Vietnam.

Vonnegut, a life long Socialist in the tradition of Eugene Debs and AJ Muste, has been an observer and critic of the World he lived in, to the very end of his life. Kurt Vonnegut at 81 - Still punching!!! based on his last book, "A Man Without a Country" At one time in represented those of us who were critical but only because we had a vision of the boundless possibilites for good of the Great Republic. That critical optimism has been destroyed by the cynical ideology of neo-conservatism. Perhaps, a new generation will read Vonnegut and find hope for the future in criticism and activism.

The New York Times wrote a nice article on Vonnegut and his contribution to American literature and culture. Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84 -

I spent yesterday reading some of Vonnegut's writings. Here is a source of some articles
KURT VONNEGUT: Archives Index if you are moved to do likewise.

And, here is a video piece by Lori Harfenist,the charming host/creator of The Resident, a new York cable show.
YouTube - Kurt Vonnegut is The Resident's People Lori presents some of Vonnegut's ideas in a sound bite way.

I met Kurt Vonnegut, in 1967, when he lived on Cape Cod. It was a interesting and charming encounter. I remember is fondly. We discussed Horatio Alger who had just been exposed as a pedophile from the record of the Unitarian church in Barstable, where he once was the minister. (How is that for an iconoclastic revelation of the American myth of Horatio Alger.) He will be remembered for years to come as a voice for his generation. He is worth a re-read.

A Nasty Incident

This is a much subdued Ben. He was attacked yesterday by my new neighbours bull terrrier.(I think). I hesitate to say "pit bull" but he had that muscular pugacious look. They no soon met nose to nose in a greeting on the road when the other dog grabbed Ben by the neck and had him pinned to the ground. I, at first, thought they would work it out and break with Ben running home. But the other dog was not going to let go. His mistress shouting at him could not make him let go and when she moved toward the dogs the bull terrier dragged Ben through the barb wire and onto the field still with a firm grip onBen.

With that I sprinted down the 200 yards to try to seperate them. I asked the girl for the stick she was carrying and when I threatened her dog with it he released Ben. who I held while the attacker ran home. Ben then retreated to our porch bleeding a little. I think his colar protected his neck somewhat for his injuries could have been worse.

The young neighbour was very apologetic and went off home after her dog.

Ben was left with a couple of puncture wounds: one on the back of his neck and one to the left side of his head beow his ear. He was carrying his head to the side a little and flicking his head. After a day of rest he is almost like his old self but somewhat subdued. He is not very playful with his friend Blackie. I think he still has some soreness.

Not too sore to chase a wolf back into the bush when I let him out this morning.

Welcome to the neighbourhood!
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who is Sharing my House these Days

This is Dave , the Patriarch, at 84. He is still recovering in the hospital from an ulcer. We hope he will be home soon. As an old farmer and logger, he is full of stories of the "good old days." He was born and lived in River Valley, years ago. He knows and remembers lots of people and families and their interconnections. As one interested in local history, I find him a wealth of knowledge.

Like my dear friend, Madam Carre, who died a few years ago, he remembers our community before their was a year round road to Sturgeon Falls. Also, he remembers living without electricity. Those were the years when men worked in the bush with horses, axes and crosscut saws. They worked in camps all winter, took part in the river log drive in the Spring and came home to the farm managed by the wife and many children. The wife was impregnated once again, and the summer saw thr growing of food to sustain them through the Winter. French Canadian familes of Dave's generation ran to 12 to 20 children. How times have changed today French Canadian familes have the lowest birthrate of any group in Canada, in spite of the Catholic church.

This is June, who recently married Dave as his second wife. (He was married for 60 years to his first and raised 10 children and a few who just moved in with him). June lived in River Valley a few years ago, so I have know her for a while as a neighbour. She is all about arts and crafts. Here she is knitting another afghan. She also is a gamer. It is interesting to watch her chat with young teenagers at the computer games store about playing various games, bridging the generation gap. I know nothing about games. Then again, June knows nothing about politics or world affairs, or who John Picco della Mirandola was. (tee hee) .We do share an interest in doing jig saw puzzles and the animals.

This is Daisy. One of June's dogs and the love of Dave's life. She is missing her papa these days.

This is Bobbi, Daisy's mother. This little barrel chested dog in not as fierce as she appears in the pictures I take of her. She recently had a fist full of bladder stones removes. Ouch! I would have gone for the euthanasia fee rather than pay for the operation, but Dave would not have heard of it, for she is one of his constant companions.
This foursome has joined Me, Ben my dog and seven cats (I think). in my house that does not feel as large these days. I am not living the life of a hermit anymore. It seems to be going better than I expected.Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Vimy Ridge:Canadians Remember

In France, there is a little piece sacred ground of Canada, a 250 acre site on at Vimy given to Canada by France for a memorial for the battle for Vimy Ridge successfully fought by Canadian troops. It was 90 years ago, April 9-12, 1917, during the Great War, WWI, ("the war to end all wars") . Canadian soldiers, four divisions, fighting for the first time ever as a unit (until then Canadians had been part of the British military), accomplished what the French and British had failed to do (loosing 200,000 troops trying). With careful planning and some innovative strategy by a creative leadership and the training of young and determined soldiers, the Canadians assaulted the ridge defended by dug in German troops loosing 3500 soldiers and 7000 injured while the Germans lost 20,000. While these figures are astonishing they were not unsual for battles in WWI, a very dirty war where soldiers died in the millions. If fact, the casualties were quite acceptable in such a successful campaign. Still, for a country of only 8 million people it was a great loss.

The victory at Vimy Ridge would just have been another dreadful battle in a terrible war (Passchendaele was worse) if it had not taken on mythic meaning to Canada. It is viewed as a defining moment in Canada's developing identify as a country. So Canada, remembers!

The memorial is for all the 60,000 Canadian soldiers who died in WWI. There is an large cemetary there as one of many in Europe for Canadian soldiers (Until recently it has been the Canadian tradition to bury their soldiers, where they died.) Of these 11,000 were never identified, or even located, as they often just disappeared into the mud of the battle field. Vimy Ridge was planted with Canadian trees, one for every soldier. It is a peice of land still dangerous with unexploded ordinance (after 90 years). Some of the trenchworks and extensive tunnels under the battle field have be preserved . The landscape is pasture and forest over the pockmarked battle field. in this lovely spot of French countryside.

This weekend, 5000 students as well as the Prime Minister and the Queen among other dignitaries, are at the Vimy Ridge Memorial to commemorate the occasion. Sadly, there are no longer veterans alive to be there and bear witness to that fateful historic battle.

I encourage readers to take a moment and read an article on this memorable battle. As one who was taught more American history in school, the full story and significance of Vimy Ridge was not make clear to me until I could read of it as an adult. Here are a few web sites worth reading. - The Battle of Vimy Ridge April 9-12, 1917 - The First World War

Vimy Memorial - Veterans Affairs Canada

Canada in the First World War and the Road to Vimy - Veterans Affairs Canada

Canadian National Vimy Memorial - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vimy Sculptures

An Award. . .No Less

My email pal, Peggy, thinks, I and my blog are worthy of an award! Thanks! Peggy. She regularly visits my blog and gives encouraging comments,. . . . which is her way. As a result, I include more personal stuff in my blog than I originally intended. It started out as a political and social commentary but is less so now do to her interest. When I do make political and social comments. which often bordering on rants, she seldom comments, out of kindness and politeness I am sure.

I am to pass this award on to blogs and bloggers I think worthy. I am not sure I can name five such personal blogs as I read mostly political blogs and websites. Before I do anything in the morning I read Dr. Juan Cole's blog, Informed Comment . The most knowledgeable source of information on the war in Iraq. I then read several articles on the Commondreams site a collection of articles of progressive political and social thought about the US. Then to By now my outrage is up and I may end up emailing a friend and inflicting my outrage on them. "Did you read this!!!!!"

To calm myself I read Peggy's blog, Hidden Haven Homestead, to peek in on her busy life and what other cute or interesting thing she is doing around her place and with or to her menagerie of animals. These blogs are certainly all worthy of the Thinking Bloggers reward.

I would like to award three other blogs I visit that keep me returning regularly.

My cousin's blog, Dead Reckonning He does limit his blog entries to political and social comment! He is much more conservative than I and we often end up exchanging emails in a dialogue. He is very erudite and droll so I am never sure whether or not he is always serious. He definite writes a thinking person's blog.

My delightful liberal friend, Julie, writes an interesting blog. At the moment, she is distracted with love and romance and is not blogging as much as she once did. After the wedding, I hope she finds her thoughtful voice again. This young woman has charmed me over a few years with her political, social, spiritual and passionate views. We have so many things of mutual interest it is scary. She is the person who got me reading Appalachian literature which has brought me great delight. We have exchanged lengthy emails from time to time which are much richer that our blogs. No one deserves a great love in her life more , I trust she has found him, finally.

The third and last blog, I would suggest is worthy of a Thinking Bloggers award. It is Judie's blog. It is a blog full of art and crafts. Her life is filled with art. Not being artistic myself, (the family artistic gene skipped me), I am draw to her blog daily to see what other artistic thing she has created or wanted to share. It certainly keeps me thinking. "How did she do that?" "Who would have thought you could make art out of that.?"

I hope these three bloggers will copy and past the award into their blog and nominate three to five other bloggers worthy of being give this award.

I have passed over the several Islamic blogs I regularly read. (Thanks to George Bush I have become interested is Islam and Shia Islam, in particular.) These are a special category of blog for me with limited interest among most bloggers so I have not included any of them.

I will let these three personal blogs stand as my nomination for the Thinking Blogger award. I challenge them to pass the praise along by awarding their favourite thinking blogs with this award.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Winter has revisited once again. The temperature dropped and it snowed as weather moved in from the American Mid-West. There seem to be little wind with it. It is not a dramatic storm but it is bad enough to close the trans-canada highway North and West of here.
It will all be gone again next week when the tewmperatures are expected to climb into double digits.

Yesterday, before the annoying weather we had a medical emergency here. Dave (aka: Bubba) got ill and we had to call for an ambulance. It appeared to be insulin shock but there are other worrisome symptoms, (blood in his stomach) for a person of 84 years.
As with my eye injury, the ambulance came as did the volunteer, First Responders, from the adjacent town, five people all toll. It took them about 1/2 and hour to get here. I think that is pretty good for a rural area. And the price is right. NO CHARGE. It is all covered by the national universal health insurance, as is the hospital and medical treatment. There seems to be much talk, by Democrats, about such a health plan in the US. I hope so. Medical care should be a right not a privilege. Dave was transfered to the North Bay Hospital for treatment by specialists.

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas! (Tee Hee)

This is what I do with my surplus eggs: pickled eggs in vinegar and dried mustard. This is a good activity when the weather is bad. These three jars take about four dozen hard boiled eggs. It two weeks they will be ready to snack on.

A year ago, I was in Florida to pick up Veronica and accompany her to Canada. They were good days. I enjoyed the trip there and back. I hadn't travelled to the US for a number of years.

The wisteria trees were lovely at the visitors' center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Asheville, NC. Looking at the snow falling out my window makes North Carolina in the Spring look really nice and inviting. Our real Spring-like weather is just a week or two away. I hope, although I have seen it snow in June. Banish the thought!
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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Memories of My World as a Child

I have been looking at many of the videos in the CBC Archives. They are a great source of information on Canada, Canadians and events that have affected us.

I enjoyed this on on White Picket Fences from a TV documentary in 1954.

This is about the changes in Canada after the war. It was a time of growing prosperity and the fulfullment of dreams delayed by the war. Families were growing and to meet these needs and expectations, suburbia and city mass housing was created. I was 11 in 1954 so I was aware of some of these changes. Our family had moved to Toronto township six years earlier. Our "Suburban" home was not a typical development house. It was privately built by a small builder and my father did a lot of the work on the house himself. It cost him $8,000, 4% interest. He took 20 years to pay it off.
It was a modest house of a story and a half on a nice treed street in Toronto Township outside of the little community of Port Credit on Lake Ontario. In those early years , it was really a rural location. The expectation fulfilled was modest: to own a home of our own with mother home to raise three children and father working hard to provide, the pay: $50 a week. Our home had a coal furnace and an ice box. In those days, a woman. home with children. was never lonely. There were a regular stream of service men coming to the house: insurance agent, who was paid monthy, the eggman, the breadman, the iceman, the coal man, the meter reader, the knife sharpening man, and even the ice cream cart. Doctors came to the house in those days which was fortunate as we had no car.

My mother was a great reader and a user of the library which is how she amused herself in her "free" time. I remember walking the mile to Port Credit and catching a bus and then street car to get to the nearest Toronto library branch. Later Port Credit developed a small libray.

My father, rode the train into Toronto carrying his tool box to work on construction. It was around 1954 that he learned to drive and bought an 10 year old car.

Life seemed simpler and we amused ourselves, playing with the many neighbourhood kids, playing in the woodlands which surrounded us and doing family things: listening to the radio and playing table games and doing jigsaws.

We never seemed to do without. Perhaps, I just never knew what to demand. Going to a restaurant was a rare event. There were no fast food places or vast supermarkets to dangle goodies in your face.

The video above is about the expansion of housing. There are a few things that it brought to mind. The first was the number of elegant elm trees in the scenes. The elms along farmers fence lines were a hallmark of Southern Ontario. All during my growing up they were dying off from Dutch Elm desease. They were virtually wiped out. The log cabin on our farm is in a grove of elm trees, which pleases me very much.( There is now some effort to bring the elegant elms back by developing seedlings from trees that naturally resisted the Dutch Elm desease.)

I am also struck by the prices of things. Perhaps this is what they mean by the "good old days".

One thing the video does not include is the number of people who used to build their homes as they had the money. They would build the basement first and tar paper over the first floor and live in the basement for a few years until they could affort to frame up the house. You used to see a lot of this in the country. The building industry has done away with this. You cannot get a mortgage for a house partially built. In fact, it is hard to get a new house these days that doesn't include all the appliances. My aunt had a terrible time at her row house to not have them lay a lawn. She didn't want a lawn to mow. Her yard was to be all garden and groundcovering plants. Finally, they did sign off on the house without a lawn It is the easiest way to locate her house on the street.

Watch the video and see what memories it brings back for you, if you are a baby boomer or older.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More Pictures Outback

It is a cool, yet pleasant day. We are under a storm watch which will see Winter revisiting us in the next coming days with colder temperature a snow. I too the opportunity to walk across the field behind the house to take this picture of the cabin in the trench of the river. It looks lonely. It won't be long before I go and do some more work on it.

Here is my cow. Daisy. and calf, Lucy, enjoying some freedom on pasture. Notice the burdock hitchhikers in their fur. I have a nasty patch of these weeds. Even though their roots are edible it is not worth it to have them around. Being biennials they need to be cut to the ground over two seasons to get rid of them. It is war on the burdock this year!!

Looking back at the house from the field behind the house.

Ben went with me, as is his way. He stood still long enough for me to take his portrait. Who could not love such a charming furry face. Almost as furry as my own.

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Only in Canada, I Say, Eh!

This is a funny little clip of Rick Mercer and Bob Rae from his comedy show, The Mercer Report.

One of my long standing interests has been figuring out the difference between Canada and the US. This clip is an example. I don't think you would find a major politician in the US going for a skinny dip and having it appear on TV, while running for office that might see them as the next head of the government. Canada doesn't take itself or it politician's too seriously. We are playful with the likes of Rick Mercer and other comedians poking fun at ourselves and our politicians, many of whom enjoy it.

For my American friends, Bob Rae is the former premier of Ontario, when he was the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party. Last Fall, he was reentering politics by running for the leadership of the Federal Liberal Party. This clip was made during the contest.

While this chip, which is the end of a larger piece it cute, It is not as interesting as the whole video. It certainly demonstrates that Bob Rae does not take himself all that seriously and does not mind letting his real personality show. Unfortunately, the whole piece which was on TV, I could not download onto my blog. It reveals a lot about Canada, Canadian values and politics. To view the whole video from the CBC Archives go to

The video is well worth viewing. Bob Rae and Rick Mercer flew into a lake in Killarney Park near here just south of Sudbury. You will see one of our lovely northern lakes in the Fall of the year.

They discuss the Beaver aircraft, which is a Canadian Bush plane which made the opening up of the North possible. Part of Canada's interesting history is that of the courageous and foolhardy bush pilots who first flew into the North without the present day maps and navigational aids.

Rae and Mercer go fishing, a passion in this part of Canada, summer and winter. They discuss Canada and politics while fishing. I particularly like Bob Rae short rant against the conservative political philosophy of the present government and its faint similarity to the present US government. He ends by declaring, it is governments responsibility" to take care of people." Canada social safety net, particularly our health care system is the result of decades of development of this idea. While our national health insurance is our most beloved program we love to complain about it, hence the reference to waiting lists.

While Bob Rae did not win the leadership race, he has decided to run for a seat in parliament in the next election for the Liberal Party. Reference is made to Michael Ignatief who was supposed to win the election. He was teaching at Harvard University and supported the war in Iraq. That is what lies behins the reference to his license that would be for "catch, torture and release". Fortunately, he did not become the leader of the Liberal Party. Surprisingly, Stephane Dion did. he is a strong avocate of protecting the environment.

I like the suggestion that the idea for the skinny dipping was Bob Rae's idea. The water in October would be very cold. The both deserve high praise for jumping in. I doubt if they would be convinced to do a retake!